Engineer SpecsNovember 4, 2008
During the recent Witching Night event, I felt like it was time to really experiment with Syp’s specs to give me something of a sporting edge in open RvR. Respeccing is pretty cheap — right now I’m paying ~2-3gold per respec — and what else am I going to spend the money on?
Open RvR is a different beast than scenarios, and requires a different approach to PvP. Scenarios are somewhat balanced in numbers, have definite objectives and a tight timetable to operate in. ORvR, on the other hand, can be wildly unbalanced in numbers, have loose objectives, and infinite time. When there’s a clear objective for a group in ORvR — like taking a keep — things get more dynamic and exciting. When there’s not, the objective settles into a World War I trench war between two hefty armies who aren’t necessarily inclined to charging unless they have an overwhelming advantage. Hence, it becomes a sniping affair, where people respawn and run back far faster than players on their side are killed. Kind of a zero sum game.
(Side note: that makes me wonder if Mythic shouldn’t explore limited resources in terms of player numbers sometime. What if you only got X number of “lives” in ORvR or scenarios a day, and once you used them up, you could no longer respawn? Other than the incredible outrage and nerd tempers this would cause, it could actually force people to think and work strategically, to make every life count instead of throwing bodies around as disposable meatshields.)
So where was I? Oh. Open RvR and new specs. So I cycled through the three Engineer specs — Tinkerer, Rifleman, Grenadier — to see what worked best for mass zerging/converging armies combat.
Lots of people who really don’t know any better have turned on the faucets of hatred against Engineers for their Electromagnet (EM) ability, which sucks a whole bunch of enemies in and turns on the hurt. The skill may be borked and overpowered, but the class and spec surely are not — the opposite, in fact. Tinkerer is a muddled path, the “short range” gadgets patch that appeals to me as a theme. Yet when you look into it, there’s no clear direction for it, plus pretty much all of the key abilities (apart from blunderbuss and tactic-improved Turret dropping) require cast times, which are death in RvR. It’s a salad buffet of a spec, a little here and a little there but little overall when you’re done.
So many of the Tinkerer abilities are meant to be used at short range — land mine, flame turret, lightning rod, Bugman’s Best — which ensures that a Tinkerer-spec’d Engineer will be throwing themselves into harm’s way almost constantly to be effective, which is counter-intuitive to our light armor survivability. While I do like skills like lightning rod, the cast time is unacceptable for how short the range and duration of the gadget proves to be. Same with Bugman’s Best, the “healing beer” that is fun to use the first six or seven hundred times, but soon you’ll find yourself casting it again and again (at two seconds a pop) just to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from the weak AOE heal.
Suffice to say, single-target damage is pretty much out of the question with Tinkerer, and you can’t trust your flimsy and short-lived gadgets to do much better. I end up using a hodge-podge of grenades, gunshots and gadgets to do a little of everything but feeling pretty ineffective. In ORvR, the short-ranged nature of this tree is out of the question.
But if there’s a mastery path that can make me feel good about normally being a Tinkerer, it’s Rifleman. Plainly put, this is a dog of a spec, to be avoided at all costs unless you’re actively trying to pick up a disease or something. Engineers pretty much underwhelm across the board with their rifle/pistol damage, which is so meager that it gives you the impression you’ve got a pea shooter and are flicking the enemy with spitballs instead of hot lead. Gun blast (2 seconds cast) and Snipe (3 seconds) take far too long in fast-paced combat (often I’d try to use Snipe on an enemy only to find that he ran out of range before the spell finished casting) — like most other Engineer skills, I’d gladly trade a longer cooldown on skills for instant cast ability.
Using auto-attack with Rifleman is feasible but pretty dull, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels as though Engineers attack incredibly slow with rifles. Forget gun turret too — the bugged sound is still annoying the crap out of everyone, and the damage is meaningless.
That brought me back to Grenadier, which turns out is pretty competitive in ORvR. For one, it’s a very quick, painless and easy to understand spec in terms of attack order. Line up your grenades on your hotbar, 1-2-3-4-5, and let ’em fly without a second thought. Sticky bomb is one of the most fun abilities Engineers have, a DOT that unleashes a final AOE blast when it’s done — and since the enemy is constantly daring in and out of their zerg crowd in ORvR, the final blast has a great chance of hitting everyone. Acid bomb and fragment grenade add to the AOE DOT damage, flashbomb is awesome for spell interrupt and single-target damage, and who doesn’t like being able to punt a guy with a concussive grenade? Plus, the bombardment turret has good range and some moderate AOE damage to pump out.
I’ve also been playing around with strafing run, a directional ability a la friction burn that has a plane swoop in and pelt the ground in front of you with machine gun fire, doing some damage and knocking guys over. In ORvR, the limited range of this skill kept me from using it a lot, but any time I got sucked in by the Magus’ magnet, you can be sure I was hitting this and backpedaling like crazy.
Now, of course, none of this is my final judgment on these specs — I still have quite a ways to go to get all the mastery points I need to flesh out a complete path. But if nothing else, playing with respeccing makes me even more eager to see what changes — improvements — Mythic might bring to this career in the near future.